Thursday, July 05, 2007

Syndrome City

I'm gearing up for a trade show next week. We shipped out our booth today, and I'm making my final preparations before I fly out -- and stealing myself for four days of dealing with people suffering from Dunning-Kruger Syndrome.

Don't get me wrong. My business partner and I always enjoy these professional conferences. They're a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues face-t0-face, make and renew connections, and help get the word out about our services (in this case creating custom CD compilations for public radio stations). And I'll spend a lot of time dealing with Dunning-Kruger.

In case you didn't click on the link, the study by Dunning and Kruger demonstrated that the less a person knew about a subject, the more they thought they knew.

So even though I've been developed relationships with record labels, drafted licensing agreements, and worked on over 100 successful CD projects over the past 15 years, someone will stand in front of our booth and say "Why should we hire you instead of doing it ourselves?"

And naturally, the person asking the question will have no experience at all.

Even when we work with a station, we often have to deal with Dunning-Kruger. The program director who ignores our guidelines for selecting music (my recommendations are strictly limited to availablity and affordability) and stops the project dead by insisting on unobtainable tracks. The designer who doesn't understand the diffence between print and web requirements, ignores our print specs (based on my partner's twenty years of CD print work) and causes major delays when every file has to be reworked.

All professions have to endure Dunning-Krugerites, I think. Why hire a lawyer when I download a fill-in-the-blank will? Why get a real estate agent when I can just stick a "for sale" sign in the yard? Why hire a professional painter when any fool can slap a brush around?

Whatever your profession, I think having your knowledge, experience and skill regarded as valueless is insulting, to say the least.

So when a D-K sufferer asks me, "Why do we need you? Can't I do this myself?" I have a simple response.

I smile, and say as nicely as possible:

"Yes. Yes, you can. And you can also cut your own hair."

Sometimes they get it.

- Ralph

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